By: Shannon Duke
As I write this post, I just finished up the day packing up items from Gracyn’s 1st birthday party. It was a great day filled with a hard’s day work of set-up, great music, delicious cupcakes, and wonderful friends.
As I savored the time with those I cherished most, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like for my first daughter Mackenzie to take part in the festivities. She would have been three now. I wondered how she would have liked the party. Would she have helped her little sister open her presents or eat the cake? Would she have enjoyed playing with the kids that were her age?
Many may believe that the day you are able to have a successful pregnancy and birth, that it somehow wipes away the memories and even pain from a lost child. Yet, it is quite the contrary. You may even begin to think of your angel baby even more.
When we first brought Gracyn home, we did like most parents do. We would accidentally call Gracyn by her sister’s name. An honest mistake for the “average” parent. But, Marcus and I aren’t average parents.
In my grieving process, I hardly ever verbally mentioned my first daughter’s name. I am able to write it all day, but I have not healed enough that I am able to repeatedly say Mackenzie in conversation.
While I was surprised by my own response to my new baby, I tried not to beat myself up over it. That is why, I give myself permission to still think about Mackenzie and the short time I had with her. I give myself a few minutes to think about what could have been and how she would interact with the family and the world. These thoughts often make me smile.
The loss of Mackenzie made me stronger and more grateful for the time I have with loved ones.
And, you will see those attributes show up in your parenting. You will cherish every coo, every hug and every moment differently than a mother who may have not experienced loss.
Every time, I felt the need to get an extra cuddle from baby Gracyn, I did it. I know that our children not only grow up way too fast, but I also understand the miracle of having a child. And, I do not take that for granted.
You may find yourself a little more anxious. Hopefully, you will be able to talk to a licensed professional or a loved one with how you are feeling. And, you may also be surprised by mothers, who have not suffered loss. My friends, who never miscarried, related their struggles as a new parent. And, they were just as anxious as I was.
Everyday I am learning, and so will you.
You probably already heard that there is no manual that can truly prepare you for parenting. Your experience will be one of a kind.
So Hey Mama, give yourself a little grace. And, mix in some kindness.
Take all of your experiences and emotions and let it guide your parenting. Your babies have the perfect mother for them.
You got this!
About Shannon Duke
Shannon Duke is the mother to seven babies resting in Heaven including her daughter Mackenzie, who was born at 21 weeks due to severe pre-eclampsia. She and her husband, Marcus, were blessed by the birth of their rainbow baby Gracyn in July 2018. Shannon spent 10 years in the non-profit sector and now works alongside her husband, who is the pastor of New Day Community Church in Columbia, TN. She discusses her journey and faith through writing. You can follow Shannon on Facebook and Instagram (@savingshannond) or on her blog at www.savingshannon.net.